Lehigh Valley Reads Works With StoryCorps and Together For Students to Capture Stories of Lehigh Valley Families During the COVID-19 Crisis

Systemic racial inequities exposed by COVID-19 heighten the need for systems transformation.

StoryCorps, the notable nonprofit working to preserve and share humanity’s stories, prompted local conversations about race, education and opportunity in partnership with Lehigh Valley Reads. Recorded at the height of the pandemic, these conversations shed light on values that bring people together.

Lehigh Valley Reads has been working alongside Together For Students, which leverages the strengths of Communities In Schools, the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Coalition for Community Schools, StriveTogether, and is funded by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. In total, four cities – Lehigh Valley, PA; Chicago, IL; Dayton, OH; and Memphis, TN – participated.

“This entire experience with Together For Students has been transformational. By harnessing the power of storytelling, this series illustrates the exponential impact of positive relationships. We hope that it empowers students and families to join us as we build school communities where every child belongs and every child thrives,” said Jill Pereira, Vice President of Education and Impact, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. 

This work was rooted in the belief that every child should have every opportunity to succeed. COVID-19 exposed systemic weaknesses that interrupted learning for many children of color and children living in poverty. This led to a desire to hear directly from community members, to amplify their voices to raise the invisible to the visible. These stories help inform and shape the larger work being done.

“Local organizations like Lehigh Valley Reads are helping their community change the systems that fail so many families of color and families experiencing poverty. There is tremendous need and opportunity to redefine what’s possible,” said Jennifer Blatz, President and CEO of StriveTogether. “But this all begins by listening to the needs of the community and to hold their stories at the center of all work being done in this area.”

The entire collection of stories is available to listen to at:

Read the full press release.


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